Still Planning Your Estate? Why You Shouldn't Wait Another Day
Perhaps you’ve spent hours upon hours and a chunk of money to have your attorney draft documents so your assets will pass to your loved ones with minimal delay and expense.
These might include a will, revocable living trust, durable power of attorney, durable financial power of attorney, and health care surrogate.
You’ve even detailed who will receive each of your cherished mementos.
Now that you’ve taken care of the financial and healthcare details in your life, there’s one more document you might want to add… and you don’t need your attorney to draw it up.
Begin with this…
Take a deep breath, slow down for a moment, and relax. Imagine that all your friends and family are seated around you for a last get-together.
Each knows that at any moment you’ll pass to the other side, whatever that means to you.
So they’re as quiet as church mice, and all eyes are on you. What would you say?
Are you still holding a grudge from 20 years ago?
Would you curse at your no-good brother-in-law who never paid you back when you bailed him out of jail?
Or how about the neighbor who borrowed your weed eater and returned it broken, not even offering to get it repaired.
Maybe you’d like to give your younger sister a tongue-lashing for being Mom’s favorite.
For many of us, the list of people who we feel did us wrong over decades of living can go on and on. And you might think it’d be healthy to get this baggage off your chest.
But what would it mean to those who came to wish you farewell?
The best you can hope is that they’ll feel remorse for what they did.
However, it’s more likely that they’ll justify their actions to themselves and one another.
So rather than leaving on a negative note and having them simply say that you were a bitter person who never had a good word to say about anyone… even to your dying day…
I suggest putting positive spin on it. That’ll give you some peace of mind and put a smile, and tears, on your guests’ faces.
Although this is an imaginary exit speech, you can make it a last letter to friends and family… a review of your life… something they can read over and over once you’re gone.
This last letter is also known as an ethical will or a legacy letter. But it’s really…
A Letter from Your Heart
Getting started is usually the biggest challenge…
Begin with pen to paper or hand to keyboard begin by telling those closest to you how much you love them.
Perhaps your spouse stood by your side when things were tough. Be specific whether it was financial problems, health crises, or the stress of child rearing.
Tell children how proud you are of them for their accomplishments, no matter how small. Recall their first day in preschool, college graduation, wedding, or other milestones.
Write about the good times, such as the family camping trip when it rained cats and dogs the whole time. You could mention treasured moments that you spent climbing trees with a childhood friend whom you haven’t seen in decades.
You could thank someone who helped you throughout the years, who had a positive impact on your life.
Maybe you had a mentor at work, a supportive friend who encouraged without pushing you to be yourself, or a faithful neighbor who for many years took care of your pets while you went on vacations.
Seek and Offer Forgiveness…
This could also be the time to ask for forgiveness, especially to those you love if you have hurt them. You won’t get another chance.
For instance, a younger brother whom you were never close to may be overjoyed when reading that you loved him.
At the same time, forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes.
You could forgive those who have hurt you, too. Perhaps a cousin, an ex-spouse, or a former business partner who did you wrong.
You don’t need to scold or criticize. Simply tell them that you accept what they’ve done, you’ve put the past behind you, and you forgive them.
They might believe differently… that you were the one at fault. If so, then it’s their problem. You extended an olive branch, which is all you can do.
In either case, you’ll have a sense of release and tranquility by letting go of old resentments.
And if you can’t bring yourself to forgive, saying nothing.
Written Words will last Forever…
Your family and friends will appreciate your words and cherish them forever.
Meanwhile, you’ll experience an enormous peace of mind that comes from looking back on life’s ups and downs and sharing them with those you care about.
For a closing you could tell them not to be stressed or sad over your passing. The time you spent with them far outweighs any pain or discomfort you may have experienced towards the end.
And thank them once again for everything they’ve done for you. It was an honor and pleasure to have them in your life. Wish them peace and joy in the years ahead.
Once you’re finished, file your letter with your will or where you keep precious items. Or you could give it to a close friend for a second look or to your attorney to hand to your loved ones in the event of your death.
You never know when your time will come, so put your feelings in writing… while you’re still capable… and take a moment to say “goodbye” before it’s too late.
To a richer life,
— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap